Review: Since first emerging at the tail end of the '90s, Simon Green has become downtempo music's most marketable star, appealing just as much to occasional listeners and 40-something housewives as underground heads. Throughout that time, he's carefully shifted his sound to take in current trends and musical developments, whilst retaining a certain picturesque aesthetic. This fifth full-length, his fourth for Ninja Tune, continues that trend. Amongst the usual shuffling beats and twinkling melodies you'll find garage-esque vocal cut-ups, rubbery dancefloor rhythms, Floating Points style neo-jazz, string-laden two-step and some seriously wonky soul featuring vocals from Erykah Badu.
Review: A modern day Scott-Heron, without the myriad of demons on his back, Grammy-nominated jazz singer Porter has such a distinctive voice, charm and band command. He clearly lends himself well to edit culture (as proved by the huge success of the many "1960 What?" versions in recent years) and this 7" from Expansion is no exception. "On My Way To Harlem" is straight up narrative jazz with fantastic attention paid to the subtle samba and solemn horns. "1960 What?" speaks for itself; far more authentic to the original than the other versions that have popped up, if you've not already got a favourite edit - Jazz & Cole have the answer.
Review: Theo Parrish and Tony Allen together on a record? What a combo! Fusing the souls of Detroit and Laos, the unlikely but neatly fitting duo has created two absolutely beautiful soul workouts here. "Day Like This" is a staccato soul roller with emphatic swooping drums, sultry washed-out vocals and big warm organs. "Feel Loved" is a jazzier, more upbeat affair. Again the drums sit at the very forefront of the mix while the rest of the rich, warm instrumentation fits in around them in a soft, dreamy state. The debut release on Theo's new Wildheart label, expect more goodies like this very very soon.
Review: It's been four years since notorious party animal and musician extraordinaire Sam Shepherd (AKA Floating Points) launched Eglo Records. In that time, the London-based imprint has become a beacon for soul-flecked electronic music in all its forms. This double-disc retrospective tells the story so far, perfectly showcasing the label's eclectic but sharply focused approach. Alongside hits from Funkineven, Fatima, Arp 101 and, of course, Floating Points, there are numerous slept-on jams and lesser-known cuts that veer from next-level alien boogie and armour-clad acid house, to twinkling future jazz and smooth hip-hop soul. Pleasingly, there's also a quartet of unreleased cuts, of which Floating Points' epic, intoxicating "Wires" stands out.
Redlight Live (performed byThe Eglo Live Band feat Floating Points)
Review: Arriving in the same week as that crucial Floating Points 12" drop Wires is Circle, the first offering from the upcoming debut album from the 'Queen Bee of Eglo' Fatima. Described as an ode to the stars, the title track sees Fatima drop vocals over production work from Los Angeles duo Computer Jay and Shafiq Husayn of Sa Ra Creative Partners fame. It's backed with "Technology" which features button pushing from Stones Throw artist (and Madlib's younger brother) Oh No, whilst this 12? edition features a wonderful ten minute live rendition of "Red Light" done in collaboration with the Eglo Live Band.
Review: Former Brownswood staple and Gilles Peterson fave Jose James enjoyed something of a breakthrough in 2010, with an album that looked to Moodymann and Flying Lotus for inspiration. Here, he returns to his jazz roots with an album for Blue Note that pits his gorgeous baritone vocals against a musical mix that's as slick, warm and soulful as you'd expect. The 12 tracks flit between neo-soul, cosy jazz-funk, acoustic soul, hip-hop soul and trad jazz, with hissing beats, flowing pianos and shuffling grooves at every turn. James is a class act who rarely disappoints, and No Beginning No End should impress familiar fans and excited newcomers alike.
Review: One of the richest, soulful voices in the European jazz, Biondi regularly works with the likes of Incognito. The High Five Quintet complements his delivery well with a Pimptones style soft-jazz structure but plenty of rhythmic welly. For a little more house and a little less jazz, flip for Opolopo's remix. Weighty and club-ready but with Mario's full vocal still intact, it's yet another notch in Opolopo's award-worthy remix bedpost
Asterion - "I See" (feat Neil Cowley - Revbjelde edit)
Review: What began as a Diesler remix of The Jazzinvaders several years back has now turned into a collaborative project in its own right. Hectic, percussion heavy and charged with jazzy, sunkissed samba flavours it's the perfect unity of The Jazzinvaders live spirit and Diesler's heavier dancefloor swing. For balance, Neil Cowley takes us deep into the realms of psychedelic house with his remix of Asterion's "I See". With rusty Rhodes and a bassline that morphs into an utter beast, it's the perfect foil to the crazy fusion of the main A-side.
Review: Soul jazz fusion at its finest, the Whiskey Barons' Bosq teases us with two treats from his forthcoming album. The NYC 91 mix of "Up & Down" is an organic jam session that Masters Of Work would be proud to put their name to. With a magical meandering sax lead and just enough weight on the drums, it's an instant soul seducer. The Nigeria 76 mix lives up to its title in every way, too... Upbeat rhythm fusion, tight horn calls and a lush liquid wah wah effect on the guitars, it certainly wouldn't have gone amiss in Lagos back in its musical heyday
Review: Few contemporary jazz songwriters have emerged with such demonstrative authenticity and clarity as Gregory Porter. Liquid Spirit continues where the prolific artist left us with Be Good and Water; soulful, funky and galvanised in honest emotion. Echoing foundation-setting singers such as Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and even further back to the likes of Sammy Davis Junior, Porter flings us from vibe to vibe with precision-written lyrics and emphatic delivery. Highlights include the double-bass slapping stomper "Liquid Spirit", the boogie-fuelled "The In Crowd", the Cullum-esque "When Love Was King" and the tear-jerking finale "Water Under Bridges." Beautiful business.
Review: A special dedication to his formative days praying at the good church of hip-hop, cutting and pasting in Sunday school, Venice Beach member Moar gets down and does the caterpillar. An eclectic ensemble of loops and compositions, this lick shots from Senor Coconut to Bambaataa and back again with its frenetic arrangement of swinging drums, cheeky samples and crafty editing. Highlights include the bongo and fuzz box fusion of "2 vs 2" and low-swung bass shuffle and swing of "Bump On". Moar please!
Review: The artist also known as Mike Fabulous follows up 2010's Melodies with this equally far-reaching exploration of funk and soul. Less of a curiosity and more of an essentiality; the album tells a tale of modern music through a pair of glasses that belong to someone from the 70s. The best examples of this 40 year spanning sound include the cosmic disco bubbles and jaunty synth quirks of "Digital Haircut", the dubbed out mild skanks and piano-pounds of "Motlen Lava" and the whirling, twirling sub aquatic struts of "Ghost Hands". Curious yet? You should be....
Review: Cheeky Bastard Jazz offshoot BSTRD Boots purposefully keep their profile on the down low... And it seems DJ Smash does too. Who cares about identification anyway? We certainly don't when the grooves are as sun-splashed and infectious as these. The stand out cut is "Merry Wanna", a beautiful reversion of Linval Thompson's pro-weed anthem. Elsewhere we find ESG-style funk fusion ("Melo"), Cuban heel snapping ("Superstrut") and early Chicken Lips / Idjut Boys style boogie ("Gaz-O-Line").
Review: !! REPRESS !! Prolific album man Claudio Passavanti unleashes his first brand new material since last year's long one (his fifth in six years) Britannia Shing-A-Ling. As usual with Mr SSS, it's a wild affair that takes in jazz, soul, Cuban and good old fashioned funk. Lead track "Heart's Desire" swirls completely in minor key, twisting and trumping with a very familiar horn phrase and some deep, sexy captivating lyrics. Think Bugz, but more homely. "Theme De Yoyo", meanwhile is more your hands-down funk alliance with a full-fat horn section, a low-swung bassline and vocals that sound like they're being belted off the Pyramid stage on a balmy Friday night. If you're familiar with RSL's Every Preston Guild you'll be all over this...